Director of Corporate Services Kate Allan sought, and received, pre-approval of this year's capital budget from Owen Sound council. The amount of the annual Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund transfer is still unknown, so the budget cannot be finalized, but major projects for 2019 must be put out to tender, and the clock is ticking.

A full explanation from Ms Allan's staff report is here:

In a non election year Council’s review of the draft budget commences before the previous year end and as such the budget is approved early in the year to which it applies. 2018, being an election year, delayed the presentation and review of the draft budget. The capital budget was presented to Council on January 15, 2019 and reviewed on January 22, 2019.

The intention was to hold a public meeting February 11th and bring forward a staff report recommending approval of the draft budget. However, the annual Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund transfer is still unknown. As this represents a significant revenue in the overall budget staff cannot recommended approval until the amount of the transfer is known.

The process for procuring capital begins with the approval of the budget. This is followed by the generation of workplans. RFP and tender documents must be prepared by staff and reviewed by department heads and our purchasing agent. Once posted to our bids and tenders website the requests are active for a minimum of 3 to 7 weeks. Submissions received for RFP’s must be evaluated. Contracts over $250,000 must be approved by Council. Once agreements are, executed work may commence. Completion or delivery will depend on the complexity of the project.

While some deadlines for capital have been explicitly tied to funding agreements, there are other projects that are required to be completed in order to simply meet the service levels that we are committed to and fit within our staff scheduling. For this reason, delaying approval of the capital projects to the March 4th meeting will have a significant impact on our ability to meet deadlines. It may also result in a higher number carried forward projects which is contrary to the clear direction that has been heard from Council to staff.

Pre budget approval will allow staff to move forward with their work plans. It must be noted however that staff are aware of the unknown adjustment OMPF changes may have on the operating fund. Pre budget approval for the capital plan does will not limit staff or council’s ability to adjust the City’s overall levy in order to accommodate for changes in OMPF funding and remain at the goal of a combined increase of 2.9%.

All budget items including funding sources, reserve transfer and ultimately the total levy will not be considered approved until the final budget is brought forward at the public meeting and ultimately to Council for approval. Our amended goal for this meeting and staff report is March 4th with the budget bylaw on the March 18, 2019 agenda.

Pre Budget approval will provide staff with the direction to move forward with work plans and procurement within the expense thresholds noted for each project.

Ultimately, a public meeting will precede the Council meeting that considers approval of the budget. All budget documents are available to the public by request or through the City’s website here.

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